Blackberry’s decline as a manufacturer has been as public as it has been dramatic. It’s no great secret that the fallen giants may soon pack handset production altogether, but not before unveiling two new phones at the Mobile World Congress.
The Q20 and the Z3 are their names, and they couldn’t be much farther apart in nature.
The Z3 is a budget offering, with an impressive five-inch screen to try and entice customers. As you might expect as a phone from a phone originally set to be named the Jakarta, it is scheduled for an April release in Indonesia, followed by sale across the rest of South-East Asia. It’s set to be priced at $200, and will only carry 3G – with plans for a 4G model to come. If Blackberry can find a way to keep the price low on the 4G variant, they could have quite an appealing budget phone for the emerging markets.
The Q20 is much more interesting, though it may be for all the wrong reasons. Blackberry CEO John Chen has called it ‘the classic’. That’s right, Blackberry are reaching back to their glory days to bring you a handset with a full physical keyboard, trackpad and navigational buttons. No images have been released as yet, but it doesn’t take a creative visionary to imagine how it might look.
It’s rather the equivalent of Ford re-releasing a hand-crank Model A in an attempt to reignite sales. It almost seems like submission. In the face of ever-mounting duress, Blackberry have essentially admitted that they are completely out of ideas. It would be rather different if fans were still demanding an old-school Blackberry, but the Q10 released this time last year (which included many of the same features) faced such atrocious sales that Blackberry cancelled half of its planned smartphone releases for 2014.
Could this be one last, half-hearted hurrah for Blackberry? We’ll know more about the Q20 in the days to come, so make sure to check back on What Mobile to follow the sad last days of Blackberry.